12 chronic master beaters TOC picks the Chicago DJs you need to know before you go Compiled by John Dugan and Patrick Sisson Photographs by Calbee Booth We'll concede that it's possible to have a good time at a post-collegiate pick-up joint, where they pump out familiar Top 40 party hits. But why waste a night out with some anonymous inhuman jukebox when you can be in the presence of a—dare we say it— true artiste? Club music has its own history (see "Groove evolution," page 21) and Chicago DJs have played a key role (house was birthed here in the '80s) in the development of electronic dance music. But that was yesterday. Today, the city is home to expert sonic curators in a myriad of genres. Deep in the Chicago club scene, there are some very serious mofos, folks that know recorded music backward and forward and, most important, how to combine old tracks and new in a way that's entertaining and good for both dancing and listening. The best DJ set expresses a philosophy and makes us think about music and "going out" in a new way. We've selected a dirty dozen of Chicago-based DJs you should know to get you started. (You can find any venues mentioned in our Clubs section.) We're just scratching the surface, obviously: Chicago has skyscrapers full of talent. And we bypassed a few familiar names in favor of some lesser-knowns who are dear to our ears. But, hey, we're picky, and you should be, too. Johnny Love Youthful loft party ne'er-do-well and proponent of electro, Italo, booty house, grime and more Style: If you don't already know, that's not really my fault now, is it? Chicago residencies: Fourth Fridays at Lava, second Thursdays at Liar's Club. First gig ever: Wonderland in Bloomington, back in the rave days Best gig ever: Opening for Green Velvet at Sound-Bar in July Worst gig ever: In the azone [on Milwaukee Ave] in 2002 with Dirtwolf—it wasn't his fault. It was the dumb promoter broad's fault. That, and she had heinous armpits. Musical heroes: [The late, seminal Chicago house DJ] Ron Hardy. Not only was he musically adventurous, he could party like a motherfucker. Vice/drink of choice: Taut young women. Seriously? Campari and OJ. Favorite song: Currently, Dan Hartman's "Relight My Fire" Best thing about Chicago: Other than Hot Doug's? The Opaque Project.